Along my coaching journey, I realized the importance of setting a ‘true’ goal versus the ‘right’ goal at an early stage of a coaching engagement. In my professional coaching assignments, I start with understanding the organization (sponsor’s) overall goal and then move on to the individual’s goal. I insist on co-creating it with the coachee (person who will be coached). It only makes sense since at the end of the day they will be talking, owning, actioning and sometimes ‘breathing’ them (most sessions of mine starts with ‘breathing’ in the client’s values, life purpose, goals) with their coach for the next few months!
While that is done, I still go through a process of Goal screening in the first couple of sessions. This process of unraveling and shifting through the goals, breaking them down, invokes an initial level of self-discovery for my clients. At first I find the goals are something that ‘sounds good’ and objective but (emotionally) distant. It seems the 'right' goal to pick!
In one of my coaching sessions with a client who is a leader transitioning into a larger role had practically the organisation’s goal as his. Now that is not a bad deal, as long as that’s what you passionately want to achieve.
How do I get to the 'true' goal?
I try to derive the 'true' goal through various methods; first and foremost by conducting a 'Foundation session'. I believe that is the 'heart' and the ‘center’ of this entire engagement (quite often the ‘heart’ of the client as well!) The Foundation session is a self-discovery process that connects the client to their core values and their life purpose. It’s a self-discovery because most often clients connect to their authentic self for the first time here! Once this is done, we go back to the goals. This time I use self-reflecting questions to help my clients to discover their ‘true’ goal.
"Is this goal in alignment to your values and life purpose?"
One of my clients had a goal to create a future plan in a particular department. He had signed up for it with his supervisor (so called co-created it with him). During the foundation session and discussions after, it was clear that his natural talents were not in alignment to that goal. It was something he was not passionate about and therefore subconsciously kept procrastinating it until his supervisor called it out as a goal with the external coach (convenient!).
As we dug deeper and explored his passion & interests it percolated in defining a 'new' goal. His creative juices started to flow and like a gushing river that nourishes the plants on its banks, he began to create innovative solutions to work on his ‘dis-passionate’ goal. At the end of it he was re-charged and felt accomplished.
Another question from which I have personally learnt a lot as a coach is - ‘Which part of my ‘inside’ does this goal enhance?’
By ‘inside’ I mean, will it help me work on any fear that I was nurturing/ sidelining? Will it help me discover/showcase my potential? Will it help me grow spiritually and ethically? Does it touch the most important element of my life?
If the answer is a clear yes, I recommend writing it down in complete detail. The clearer the goal description -the more precise the outcome and the more efficient the subconscious mind will become to enable you to make it happen. Together they bring the combined force to create the solutions within the ‘resourceful’ you!
Transactional versus Transformational Goal
I had heard someone tell me this once – “Transformation as a process is Exciting in the beginning, Messy and Confusing in Between and Beautiful at the end!”
I believe this to be true for enabling my coachees to identify the true (transformational) goals. And while it’s a lot more “messy” and “confusing” to get to the transformational goal – it’s much more meaningful than sticking to the first thing that emerges i.e. the transactional goal.
A 'true' goal needs to transcend the objective, otherwise it’s a task, another checklist to ‘speak up in leadership meetings’, ‘engage your team’, ‘have the crucial conversations with your peers’, ‘exercise daily’ etc etc ….you get the drift!
A True Goal needs to be an inspiration to you! Does it call out to the superior self in you to push the boundaries of fear, limitations, risk and courage? What does it say about the kind person you are? Imagine what you can BE! Have this conversation with yourself and you will know your True (Transformational) Goal.
I sign off with my favorite line (which incidentally I got engraved on my notebook) – "I compare myself only to my Highest SELF."